How civil society is protecting forests and Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Congo – Fern
Nina Cynthia Kiyindou is a lawyer, and head of Natural Resources and Forest Community Rights at Fern’s partner, Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l'Homme (OCDH). OCDH was created in Brazzaville in 1994 by a group of journalists, lawyers and teachers, with the aim of promoting human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Congo. Nina works with forest peoples and Indigenous communities promoting their collective rights, and has been with OCDH since 2008. Before then, she was a consultant and researcher specialising in Indigenous Peoples’ laws.
Here she outlines how OCDH is tackling the deep-seated, complex problems many forest communities face when conservation and logging operations arrive in their areas, as vividly highlighted in Laudes Martial Mbon’s accompanying article.
Q: How did you come to work on the challenges facing Indigenous Peoples and forest communities?
A: Initially, OCDH wasn’t interested in forestry issues. Its mandate was solely to promote and defend ‘classical’ human rights. But our work on Indigenous Peoples’ rights began when we then published a report in 2006 in which the extent of the problems communities faced - particularly from the forestry companies - was strikingly evident.
Q: What are the biggest challenges Congo’s forest communities face?
A: One big challenge for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, is that they cannot effectively participate in forest management and forest processes. Forest management is at the local level. The forest processes are the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA), Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).
Communities don’t have effective access to protected areas. There is a law on wildlife and protected areas that protects the rights of use, but it’s not enforced. There are many conflicts between forest communities and the agencies that manage the parks.
People rely on these areas for non-timber forest products (NTFP), including game and bark, leaves and bones.
Securing customary land rights is another big hurdle for communities. Beyond customary rights, the law requires registration [land titling] and imposes various conditions. The challenge for communities facing complex and unjust laws, is comparable to the land grabbing phenomenon, which emanates from forestry projects, as well as mining, agro-industrial and infrastructure ventures.
When a company signs an agreement with the state, it must take certain measures in favour of the communities. The implementation of these obligations requires regular monitoring. But many companies make social obligation commitments but do nothing. And communities have a real problem in tracking these commitments.
Another problem is the management of Local Development Funds (LDF): they are only present in developed areas. It is a profit-sharing mechanism where the company collects 200 Central African Francs (0.3 Euro) per cubic meter of timber and pays it to the LDF. Normally, communities can tap into this fund to carry out economic activities, but it is very difficult for them to develop projects that meet the FDL's requirements. Funds are also widely misappropriated.
22-Sep-2022 - The battle to stop global warming from rising above the catastrophic 1.5 degree Celsius received a boost on Wednesday as the newly launched Global Leadership Council got down to business during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
As the world faces multiple crises dominated by new conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, economic shocks, and growing inequalities, development has been halted or even reversed across several domains, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).
The African Union (AU) Youth for Peace Africa Programme, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) have launched a serious game known as “Mission55 Conflict in Anaka”, to commemorate the International Day of Peace (Peace Day) 2022. The game, which the AU and GIZ developed, aims to raise awareness, educate and inform the public, particularly youth, on the mandate of the AU to promote good governance, peace and security in Africa.
African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in eastern and southern Africa have been prompted to support and promote the implementation of the African Union’s Free Movement Protocol (FMP) and the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA). The call to action to CSOs was made during the opening of the second Regional CSO Sensitization Forum on the Continental Free Movement Protocol organized by the AU Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
September 15, 2022 (NAIROBI, Kenya): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) today launched the IGAD Regional Trade Policy 2022-2026 in Nairobi. Representatives of IGAD Member States from Ministry of Trade and Heads of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representatives of partners such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) attended the one-day event.
New commitments aimed at catalyzing biodiversity finance and conservation were unveiled today at a high-level event convened on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to showcase action and support for a nature-positive world. New initiatives announced include €0.87 billion of new funding from the German government; a 10 point plan for financing biodiversity, endorsed by 16 initial countries; and the next phase of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC for Nature and People 2.0)...
Nancy Karigithu is Kenya’s Ambassador and Special Envoy for Shipping and the Blue Economy. In an interview, she explained how the maritime sector can reduce pollution, rein in carbon emissions, and combat wildlife trafficking on a global scale.
Patricia Zurita is CEO of BirdLife International, a leading conservation organization that works with 115 national partner organizations and 13 million members to protect birds and their habitats worldwide. In an interview marking BirdLife’s 100th anniversary, she shared her vision for how the world can create a healthy environment for healthy societies in the coming century.
Bonn, Germany – Representatives of almost 140 Governments will begin a week-long meeting on Sunday in Bonn, Germany to advance the science and evidence necessary to address the global biodiversity crisis. The ninth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (#IPBES9) will be the first in-person meeting, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, of the global body tasked with presenting decision-makers with the best-available science and expertise, to inform policy and action on nature.
Hindou, a Mbororo Indigenous pastoralist woman, is the founder of the Association of Indigenous Peul Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT), a community-based organization focused on promoting the rights of girls and women in the Mbororo community and inspiring leadership and advocacy in environmental protection. She is an influential climate leader in Africa, advocating for the importance of traditional knowledge for building resilience of Indigenous and forest communities to cope with the climate crisis.
Enforcement officers new to the fight against wildlife crime have put a suite of TRAFFIC resources and newly developed materials to the test in a series of trainings in Southeast Asia. The face-to-face trainings with newly designed materials have been critical in bringing up-to-date information and tools to frontliners in some of the region’s major wildlife trade hotspots. However, staff turnover, regulatory changes, and evolving trends in wildlife crime mean there is a constant need for training.” Renee Yee, TRAFFIC’s Training and Capacity Building Officer in Southeast Asia
UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) issued a report, which presents evidence on gender equality across all 17 SDGs. Emphasizing the pivotal role of gender equality in driving progress on the entire 2030 Agenda, the report warns that global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, violent conflict, and climate change have exacerbated gender disparities.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) regional offices for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) published the results of a regional assessment of progress towards SDG 4 (quality education). The report highlights the urgent need for more investment and social participation to enable a systemic transformation of education.
On the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2022, we reflect on the important role of indigenous women in the preservation and the transmission of traditional knowledge.
On September 12, Huang Runqiu, President of the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) and Minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, had a video meeting with Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. The two sides had in-depth exchanges on the second part of COP 15 and key issues related to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) .
From 19 September to 20 November 2022, learn to develop a step-by-step ecosystem restoration plan and apply effective restoration solutions in your national and sub-national context. Now is the time to restore our damaged ecosystems. Join a FREE MOOC on Ecosystem Restoration on the Learning for Nature platform.
We, the representatives of Central African civil society who participated in-person and virtually in the 19th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), which was organized by the Federal Republic of Germany and took place from 5 to 8 July, 2022, in Libreville, Republic of Gabon, came together on 6 July 2022, as part of a strategic workshop of civil society organizations working to ensure effective management of natural resources in Congo Basin countries…
Berlin, 12th September 2022, the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), has officially joined the 124 members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). INBAR has submitted its application and consented to the CBFP members’ cooperation framework to promote sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa.
Please download the recommendations, conclusions, messages coming out of the deliberations of Streams 1a, 1b, 2 and 3, Technical Segment of the MOP 19 of the CBFP of Libreville towards sustainable development for Central Africa’s countries, people, forests and biodiversity...These conclusions also serve as a roadmap for the partners to implement the "Declaration of commitment of COMIFAC Member States to the forests of Central Africa and call for equitable financing" and the “Joint Declaration of the Congo Basin donors of COP26”…
Please kindly consult the main conclusions of the two side events organised by CIFOR and USFS in the margins of CBFP MOP 19 on: Slot 1: Current scientific activities on peatlands (and other wetlands) in the Congo Basin and Slot 2: Early responses to protect and manage peatlands in the Congo Basin.
Berlin, 12th August 2022, the Republic of Korea (ROK), represented by the Korea Forest Service (KFS), has officially joined the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). ROK has submitted their application and consented to the CBFP members’ cooperation framework in promoting sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa.
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Participants at the 2022 World Water Week, which convened against the backdrop of the flooding in Pakistan, the food crisis in Africa, and the drying rivers of Europe, highlighted the need for investments and political will to implement available water solutions.
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Berlin September 7, 2022. Honourable Dr. Christian Ruck, CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany travelled to Brussels to co-host together with the Member of the European Parliament from the Group of the European People's Party (EPP) Dr. Angelika Niebler, a casual round table on the importance of the EU’s support in achieving better protection of the Congo Basin Forests, including through a “Fair Deal” mechanism for long-term financing of the region by means of payments for ecosystem services approach.
Delegates to the fourth session of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP4) advanced their work on the outline for a future global policy framework to promote chemical safety.
A strong majority of Europeans think businesses are failing in their responsibility to protect the world’s forests and therefore support a new law to ban products that destroy them. On Amazon Rainforest Day, a new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Europeans (82%) believe businesses should not sell products that destroy the world’s forests and think (78%) that the government needs to ban products that drive deforestation. When informed that the European Parliament has proposed such a law, support rises to 81 per cent.
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Will the EU biomass loophole give a lifeline to energy giant EPH’s coal power plants? “A carbon bomb in the heart of Europe” investigates the rapidly growing Czech energy company EPH’s exploitation of loopholes in the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive. The loopholes allow Member States to offer subsidies to extend the life of power stations. EPH is using such subsidies to burn biomass from forests, thereby dangerously delaying the energy sector’s decarbonisation.
On 28 June 2022, European Union Council of Environment Ministers (Council) adopted their opinion on the Commission’s proposal for a deforestation-free regulation intended to rein in the forest destruction caused by EU consumption of coffee, cocoa, palm oil, soya, beef and wood. While the text makes certain advances, other concerns and notable omissions must be addressed by the European Parliament when it adopts its position in mid-September.
A side-event entitled "Monitoring the implementation of the N'Djamena Declaration and the Development of Country Investment Plans in preparation for N'Djamena 2” was held on 07 July 2022. Experts from the 3 geographical and thematic blocs of the N'DJAMENA Declaration attended the day of strategic reflection on the subject of transhumance. A roadmap and a logical framework which the experts had established during previous work sessions were presented at the meeting. Other presentations delivered during the gathering highlighted the wide range of activities conducted by conservation actors, from the perspective of peaceful management of transhumance.
The DYNAFAC side event consisted of presentations reviewing the results of 40 years of research on forest dynamics and ended with draft recommendations for policy makers. The first presentation entitled "Structure, diversity and dynamics of Central African forests: main achievements of the DynAfFor and P3FAC projects" was delivered by Sylvie GOURLET-FLEURY (CIRAD, France) and Félix ALLAH-BAREM (ICRA, CAR), and the second presentation entitled “Population dynamics of commercial species in Central Africa: main achievements of the DynAfFor and P3FAC projects” was delivered by Jean-Louis DOUCET (Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech – University of Liège, Belgium) and Franck MONTHE (Nature+ asbl, Belgium).
The 13th Workshop of the Central African Forest Commission's Sub-Working Group on Protected Areas and Wildlife (SGTAPFS) took place in Libreville, Republic of Gabon, from 11 to 15 July 2022. The German Cooperation through the GIZ Regional Project to Support COMIFAC, the European Union through the ECOFAC VI Program, and WCS provided technical and financial support for the workshop, which was coordinated by the institution's Executive Secretariat.
The Binational Supervisory and Arbitration Committee (CBSA), on the Cooperation Agreement between Cameroon and Chad for the concerted management of the Bouba Ndjidda and Séna Oura cross-border protected area complex, has held its second session at the invitation of Mr. Jules Doret NDONGO, Minister of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon and Current President of CBSA. Kindly download the documents....
The Climate Focus side event, entitled “The Forest Declaration Assessment - How to achieve the 2030 goals in the Congo Basin” took place on 5 July 2022 during the 19th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Following a brief overview of the project, five regional experts took the floor in a string of presentations on a variety of forestry-related topics.